Brian Setzer Orchestra performs in concert Dec. 21

Three-time Grammy Award-winning guitarist, singer and songwriter Brian Setzer, whose rockabilly revival group The Stray Cats and his own jazz-oriented big band, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, have rocked many a house, plays the California Theatre on Dec. 21.

Setzer formed the swing and jump blues 17-piece Brian Setzer Orchestra in the mid-1990s. The ensemble released four studio albums, a Christmas disc and several live releases between 1994 and 2002. The group’s 1998 album, “The Dirty Boogie,” cracked the Top 10 and featured the hit single, “Jump, Jive and Wail.”

Other albums by the group followed, including “Wolfgang’s Big Night Out” in April 2007, which featured Setzer's take on classical pieces, such as Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. The album earned Setzer his eighth Grammy nomination, Best Classical Crossover Album of the Rear.

In October 2009, the Brian Setzer Orchestra released a new album titled "Songs From Lonely Avenue." For the first time in Setzer's career, he was the sole writer on every song. Frank Comstock, the 87-year-old big band arranger whom Setzer collaborated with on "Wolfgang's Big Night Out," orchestrated most of the horn parts for the album.

Born in New York state, Setzer, drummer Slim Jim Phantom and bassist Lee Rocker formed The Stray Cats in 1980 in London, where they found their first success. There the group released two albums, the self-titled “Stray Cats” and “Gonna Ball.”

The trio finally caught America’s attention with the 1982 album “Built for Speed,” which featured the hit singles “Rock This Town” and “Stray Cat Strut.” The band’s 1983 follow-up album, “Rant ‘N Rave with the Stray Cats,” featured the hit singles “She’s Sexy + 17” and “I Won’t Stand in Your Way.”

The Stray Cats separated in 1984, and but reunited briefly to record albums and tour several times during the 1990s. During 1985 and 1986 Setzer was lead guitarist with Robert Plant’s touring version of The Honeydrippers.

In the summer of 1986, Setzer released his first solo album, “The Knife Feels Like Justice,” which marked a huge move away from his trademark sound and towards a more mainstream “rock-roots” sound.

Setzer continued to release solo-billed albums, including a solo live disc titled “Rockin’ By Myself (1998). He released the album “Ignition” in 2001 with his new trio, billed as the ’68 Comeback Special.

In 2003, Setzer released “Nitro Burnin’ Funny Daddy. A tribute album titled “Rockabilly Riot Vol. 1: A Tribute to Sun Records” in July 2005. The album “13” was released in October 2006. “Red Hot & Live” followed a year later.


WHEN: 8 p.m. Dec. 21

WHERE: California Theatre of the Performing Arts, 562 W. Fourth St., San Bernardino.

TICKETS: Available through,, or theater box office


Brian Setzer Orchestra